ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- It doesn't matter which side of the border he races on. Canadian Eric Latino is a winner.
The recently crowned PMRA champion and his Team Green hit the $20,000 Pro Modified jackpot Sunday at Englishtown, N.J.'s Old Bridge Township Raceway Park to cap the 10th edition of the SPEEDTECH Shakedown Nationals.
Latino, of Whitby, Ontario, plowed through a stout 32-car field and defeated Dwayne Wolfe with a 6.011-second, 243.24-mph pass in his '69 Camaro. Wolfe, of Moorefield, W.Va., gave him a 6.120, 231.64 in his '02 Firebird.
Three years ago, Latino was the crew chief for Tony Pontieri when his fellow Canadian won the Shakedown in the Pro Outlaw class.
"But this time, it was the toughest field I've ever seen," Latino said. "I thought we were going to come here, hang out, and go home the first round. So it was pretty good to make it to the final."
He not only made it to the final round, but he won against a hungry Wolfe, the No. 16 qualifier who already had upset No. 1 qualifier and 2011 Shakedown champion Jose "El General" Gonzalez, then respected veteran racers Tim O'Hare and Gary Courtier.
Joining him in the winners circle were Rob Wells (Largo, Fla.) in the Outlaw 10.5 class, Wayne Horton (Smithfield, R.I.) in Top Sportsman, Scotty Guadagno (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in Limited Street, and Jeremy Teasley (Columbus, Ohio) in Pro Street Bike.
Those five classes crowned their champions as The Shakedown Nationals ran past the neighborhood noise curfew by about an hour. Then this milestone street-legal drag-racing classic that has grown exponentially in size and prestige since 2002 had to shut the engines off, with four classes left incomplete.
Unfinished were the X275, Heavy Street, 8.50 Index, and Pro Import classes. The finalists in each category agreed to split their respective $5,000 winners shares of the purses.
Left waiting were red-hot X275 driver Rich Bruder (Edison, N.J.) and his opponent Sean Ashe (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) in an all-Mustang final. Mitch George, the 2009 Heavy Street winner, was bidding for a second Shakedown trophy, against fellow Chevy driver Tony Presto (Oakville, Ontario, Canada).
Joe Albrecht (Bellmore, N.Y.) and Billy Moran Jr. (Hopelawn, N.J.) were set to go for the victory in the 8.50 Index class. In the Pro Import class, the final was set with Jorge Juarbe (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) and Jesus Melendez-Torr.
In accepting his $10,000 payout for the Outlaw 10.5 victory, Ron Wells called his turbo-powered '07 Mustang "a frickin' fickle piece." But the silver beauty behaved pretty much like he wanted it to and turned in a winning performance of 4.150 seconds, 189.20 mph.
Limited Street winner Scotty Guadagno used a 4.604-second elapsed time at 162.49 mph in his '02 Camaro to defeat Ray Royer Jr. (Bedford, Ohio). The '85 Camaro driver responded with a 4.690, 165.90.
"It came with a bunch of luck. We didn't run all that well," Guadagno said. "But we came to the final. I was hoping the curfew would hold up."
The turbo-powered Pro Street Bike final went to Teasley, a 21-year-old with nerves of steel and a pink Suzuki he nicknamed "Rizzo." With a 6.970-second E.T. and 212.66-mph speed, he knocked off No. 1 qualifier Gladstone who rode his Suzuki to a 7.141, 211.06 showing.
Teasley posted the class' quickest and fastest run of the weekend in his 6.971-second, 212.23-mph semifinal victory over Danny Cox. That was the first sub-seven-second bike pass of the event. He repeated the 6.9, 212 performance in the final.
In front of Saturday and Sunday crowds that Hance said appeared to be the best in the race's 10-year history, 252 drivers competed.
Results, by class, from Sunday's 10th annual SPEEDTECH Shakedown Nationals drag-racing classic at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park:
Pro Modified - Eric Latino (Whitby, Ontario, Canada), '69 Camaro, 6.011 seconds, 243.24 mph def. Dwayne Wolfe (Moorefield, W.Va.), '02 Firebird, 6.120, 231.64
Outlaw 10.5 - Rob Wells (Largo, Fla.), '07 Mustang, 4.150 seconds, 189.20 mph def. Charlie Dolbin (Quarryville, Pa.), '05 Mustang, 5.557, 95.11
X275 - Last round completed: Semifinal. Sean Ashe (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), '85 Mustang v. Rich Bruder (Edison, N.J.), '88 Mustang. They will split the purse.
Top Sportsman - Wayne Horton (Smithfield, R.I.), '98 Cutlass, 4.662 seconds, 145.17 mph def. Alan Prusiensky (Rockaway, N.J.), '07 Stratus, 4.489, 163.41
Limited Street - Scotty Guadagno (Brooklyn, N.Y.), '02 Camaro, 4.604 seconds, 162.49 mph def. Ray Royer Jr. (Bedford, Ohio), '85 Camaro, 4.690, 165.90
Heavy Street - Last round completed: Semifinal. Tony Presto (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), '67 Chevy II v. Mitch George (Hopatcong, N.J.), '84 Monte Carlo. They will split the purse.
8.50 Index - Last round completed: Semifinal. Joe Albrecht (Bellmore, N.Y.), Monte Carlo v. Billy Moran Jr. (Hopelawn, N.J.), '74 Vega. They will split the purse.
Pro Import - Last round completed: Semifinal. Jorge Juarbe (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) v. Jesus Melendez-Torr. They will split the purse.
Pro Street Bike - Jeremy Teasley (Columbus, Ohio), Suzuki, 6.970 seconds, 212.66 mph def. Joey Gladstone (Townsend, Del.), Suzuki , 7.141, 211.06.
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